When you are sent to prison, the intent is to isolate you from society as punishment for your crime. As you sit in jail and wait for each day to pass until you reach your release date, the world moves on without you.
Keeping in touch with friends and family is a good thing for prison inmates and is considered an important part of recovery. However, when you’re left out, it’s hard to hear everything that’s going on in the free world – all those big life events like weddings and babies – can be hard to hear.
Still, I appreciate knowing that the people in the world I care about most are taking their lives and moving on – despite the stress and frustration my case has brought to their lives. I still feel sad that what I was involved in negatively affected my family and friends for so long. However, I digress.
Just because you’re in jail doesn’t mean you’re missing out on everything, right? Prison inmates definitely take time off so they can be with their families during major life events. Well, let’s see when to answer today’s question – can you get out of jail and go to your wedding?
In today’s blog post, I’ll cover the following topics:
- What is prison leave?
- Can prisoners take time off to attend weddings?
- Who remembers Willie Horton?
What is prison leave?
Prison leave is essentially authorization to leave a correctional facility. This refers to allowing a prisoner to leave prison for a specific time and for a specific reason. When the time is up, the prisoner returns to a state or federal facility to continue serving his sentence.
Accompanied leave is available – this means that an officer will accompany the prisoner. Alternatively, the leave can be unaccompanied. The most common reason prisoners are allowed to take time off is for medical reasons, such as undergoing surgery or giving birth.
Prisoners may also have time off for funerals, or may be in contact with potential employers to find work upon release.
In the section on federal leave Bureau of Prisons On the website, they clearly state that vacation is not a right. Nor is it a reward for good behavior or successful programming, nor is it a means of shortening your sentence. According to the BOP, the purpose of the leave is to “achieve specific corrective goals.”
“Reducing recidivism by ensuring transition needs and enhancing community reintegration prior to release” is the intended outcome of the furlough scheme, and the public is “protected from undue risk”.
Types of leave at the federal level include transfer leave, which is intended to move an inmate from one facility to another. There is also a non-transfer leave, which can be emergency or routine.
Emergency leave allows inmates to “address family crises or other emergencies.” While routine leave can be used for post planning, medical or educational purposes.
A day off lasts 16 hours or less and is within a 100-mile radius of the prison. Overnight leave can last from three to seven calendar days, but can be extended.
Each state has its own rules regarding prison leave. But just because federal and state agencies have regulations, doesn’t mean they happen often. In the four years I’ve been in prison, I’ve never heard of anyone in the facility or in the state being granted leave.
Can prisoners take time off to attend weddings?
The answer to this question is “no”. No warden or prison staff will grant time off for a wedding. Like I said above, time off should only be considered in family crises or medical emergencies.
There are also people who take time off for educational or employment reasons, but weddings don’t fall into those categories.
If prisons put inmates on leave for events like weddings, the prison will never be able to function. In this day and age, it is nearly impossible for a dying prisoner to obtain a compassionate release.So get permission to get out of jail for the weekend so you can dress up with your friends, enjoy an open bar, and dance old time rock and roll It doesn’t happen at the reception.
Who remembers Willie Horton?
I just turned 44 in November, which means the first presidential election I can remember was in 1988, when Republican George HW Bush faced off against Democrat Michael Dukakis.
I bring this up because prison furlough is actually a topic of debate in presidential elections, thanks to a guy named Willie Horton and infamous bush tv ad.
This case and this commercial have changed public perception of prison furloughs and trumpeted support for the death penalty, taking a hard line on the crime narrative. It was an attack ad against Dukakis that still influences politics today.
The 30-second spot tells the story of Willie Horton, who is serving a life sentence in Massachusetts for first-degree murder. But as governor, Dukakis has apparently approved Horton’s 10 “weekend passes.”
During one of those vacations, Horton committed kidnapping, stabbing and rape. The case nearly cost Dukakis’ campaign. It also turned the public against the idea of furloughs.
according to marshall plan“In the mid-to-late 80s, all 50 states had furlough programs. These passes allowed prisoners to leave prison for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on their sentence and their behavior in prison; in While in the community, they can visit family, find work, or attend religious services. In 1987, almost 10 percent of state and federal prisoners were given time off.”
1988 New York Times The article says that vacations are not controversial because they can incentivize good behaviour. They are a way for prisoners to readjust to life outside the prison.
“In the United States, the practice of furloughs for prisoners is widespread, successful and relatively unproblematic,” the editor of a magazine for corrections professionals said at the time.
The Willie Horton ad and case changed all that. In a 1989 speech, George HW Bush told the nation, “We need more prisons, more prisons, more courts, and more prosecutors”—and we did.
Then-Senator Joe Biden boasted at the time that Democrats were taking a tougher line than Republicans.
“Quite frankly, one of my goals is to put Willie Horton in jail,” Biden said at the time.
President Clinton picked up where Bush left off and went a step further with the 1994 crime bill. This piece of legislation (sponsored by Biden) fueled a prison building boom, ended Pell Grants for inmates, and destroyed prison education programs across the country.
Since then, the concept of furlough at the federal and state levels has all but remained in the rulebook rather than being put into practice.
Do you think prisons should reinstate time off as an incentive for good behaviour?
Sources: Inmate Furloughs Willie Horton Revisited George H.W. Bush "Willie Horton" Campaign Ad 1988 Study Says 53,000 Got Prison Furloughs in '87, and Few Did Harm